Ceci n’est pas une infrastructure

Sounds like a pipedream. But the ultimately invisible infrastructure—no infrastructure—is certainly within reach. Many startups would agree with this idea, as they prefer asset-free business models for their next disruptive solutions anyway. Software-defined “everything,” radical automation, software containers, micro services, and the cloud are paving the way towards a catalogue-based infrastructure, retail-style. Perhaps there is no catalogue at all, just software. With software being continuously developed and deployed on an infrastructure that automatically adjusts, IT infrastructure can finally become the powerful utility it was destined to be: always available, just not noticeable. C’est tout.

What is it?

  • A new breed of providers focuses on providing measurable business outcomes for their clients’ consumers with turnkey infrastructures that are transparent and measurable in terms of value delivery. 
  • The mix of virtualization, software-defined networking and data centers, cloud, APIs, and software containers makes IT infrastructure a commodity that can be procured from a catalogue of services.
  • This can even evolve into “NoOps” and “serverless” computing, in which applications—or micro services—are instantly deployed on a cloud-based infrastructure that remains fully hidden from the developers.

 

How do we use it?

  • Startups that rely heavily on an event-based combination of IoT sensor reading, image processing, cognitive analytics, and social media functions, now by default favor a mix of third-party APIs, and “server-less” computing.
  • Often, cloud-based development—even in full DevOps mode—involves building software, checking it into a source code management system, and deploying it to a web- or application server, scaling up and down when needed. With serverless computing platforms such as Azure Functions or OpenWhisk, it’s only a matter of uploading the code and watching it run, all within seconds.

 

Potential Impact

  • Speed to digital value: no waiting for infrastructure procurement and installation, just on-demand usage
  • Elastic scalability, varying with business volumes
  • Full business focus on software-based solutions, rather than on the underlying infrastructure challenges
  • Easy-to-start new initiatives, based on Minimum Viable Products (MVPs), no limits to scaling out, and small costs for failures
  • Modest to no upfront IT infrastructure investments
  • Ability to monetize social profile data in and outside the company

 

Technology